Thursday, 31 December 2015

Top 10 Books of 2015

Another year has come and gone and with it I have read so many books.

Let's talk about my favourites. I did make an effort to put this in order, but I'm sure I'll end up disagreeing with my own ranking at some point anyway. Regardless, here goes! (Click on the covers to find out more via Goodreads!)

10. Death Vigil volume 1 by Stjepan Sejic
This was pitched to me as: kickass female characters and the grim reaper. Which, hey, I'm sold. But it's gorgeously drawn, super fun to read and full of heart. Also, it has an albino raven name Hugin who transforms into a feathered dinosaur. So.

If you die, the grim reaper can bestow upon you a sort of "second life", the catch is, you have to fight against the evil necromancers. There are wonderful powers, a varied cast of characters and some really awesome moments.

9. This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Totally un-put-down-able. I have loved every second of this series so far. Though I missed Lilac and Tarver, Lee and Flynn were a great pair as well. The universe that Kaufman and Spooner built in These Broken Stars expands and starts to get really interesting. I remember being mostly lukewarm about the big twist and reveal at the end of the first novel, but now it's completely necessary setup for what's going on on Avon and around the rest of galaxy from the looks of it.

If you're into sci-fi, great characters and fantastic writing, definitely pick these up!

8. The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
Black's recent standalones have been absolutely delightful. I enjoyed The Coldest Girl in Coldtown when I read it last year and probably liked this one even more. The worldbuilding is fantastic, the writing is atmospheric, the characters are unique.

And Black takes the opportunity here to play with some tropes of the genre, which pays off for her big time. I've heard rumblings that this might become a series... which I certainly hope is true! I'd love more in this world.

7. The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

Content warning: The first book in this series especially has very mature content--including rape and abuse.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure what to make of book one in this first trilogy in the Black Jewels series. But I stuck with it and it paid off big time. Bishop writes great characters and ensembles and I just ended up really loving the overall plot. So much so that I read these three books back-to-back-to-back!

6. Arrows of the Queen (Heralds of Valdemar #1) by Mercedes Lackey
Oh my gosh this book was so cute. Classic fantasy at its best. I want someone to travel back in time and put this in my hands as a young teen because oh my gosh.

Talia is Chosen and thrust into a world she can't even begin to comprehend at the beginning of this novel. And watching her journey is just so delightful and charming. The pacing of this book is a bit off, but I feel like that can be attributed to it being from 1987. I've ordered the next two books in this first trilogy because I need them in my life ASAP.

5. The Martian by Andy Weir
For those of you that love some SCIENCE in your science-fiction, this is the book for you. But don't let that intimidate you, while Weir definitely gets into the ins-and-outs of how to survive on Mars, it's still compulsively readable.

Mark Watney is also one of the most hilarious characters I've read in recent memory. His narrative is unforgettable. If you liked the movie, read this for sure!

4. Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo
I enjoyed Bardugo's Grisha trilogy, but her writing has grown by leaps and bounds with this book. The characters are nuanced, have distinct voices and more depth. I really love ensemble casts and this book did it so very well.

Be warned though, the ending of this book will not be kind to you. An eleventh hour twist means that this book doesn't stand on its own--which was a little frustrating for me. Still it was an excellent read.

I did a review of this book on Goodreads: here.

3. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
"I have waited my whole life to walk through a secret passage built into a bookshelf."

The book for book lovers, this is just such a delightful read. It has all the nostalgia of Ready Player One, but is infinitely more charming (and far less obnoxious). It has some of the same weaknesses, but ultimately makes up for them by being adorable.

Please do yourself a favour and read this book.

2. Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2) by Elizabeth Wein
Like it's predecessor, I am going to strongly recommend you listen to this on audiobook. It is just so worth it.

I actually put off reading this book for quite some time. I enjoyed Verity so much I was afraid this would never live up to it. If that sounds like you, forget all that and get on this immediately.

This book was so heartbreaking and lovely. I cried so much while listening to it. Which may not sound like a glowing recommendation, but it really is.

1. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
I am never going to be able to talk about this book coherently. I am just so unbelievably in love with it. I finished reading it and immediately wanted to pick it back up again. I put sticky tabs in this book in all my favourite spots--and I never do that. And there are so many tabs. I had to restrain myself from tabbing every other line during the kissing bits.

The most succinct thing I can say is: this reads like your favourite fanfic, but in book form.


And there you have it! My Top 10 Books of 2015!

Have you read any of these? What books did you read and love this year? Let's chat in the comments! (And Happy New Year!)

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Books You Should Read in 2016

If you're anything like me, you might have this annoying habit of wanting to read books but putting them off. I do this far too often and have even made a few posts about it before. But regardless of the reason, there always seem to books that I really want to read, but can't quite seem to get around to.

So, let me give you some incentive... or at the very least, some recommendations.

Here are 7 books or series you should read in 2016, if you haven't already!

1. The Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy by Laini Taylor
Who doesn't love a completed trilogy? Taylor's writing is gorgeous and her spin on urban fantasy is fantastic.

2. The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
... I may or may not currently be putting off reading the final installment, Winter, if only because I'm not ready for this to end!

3. The Starbound Trilogy by Amie Kaufmann & Meagan Spooner
I'm hoping to read Their Fractured Light ASAP, but the the first two companion novels in this series are just really excellent sci-fi. I can't wait to see how it all comes together!

4. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
The book for book lovers. Delightful, heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny.

5. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I'm overdue for a re-read of this book, but if you love queer lit do yourself a favour and get on this immediately.

6. Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Morally grey anti-heroes, inventive narrative and super powers? One of my favourites from last year for sure.

7. Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
Part of a companion duology, these books deserve to be mentioned together. I loved Verity so much when I first read it I put off reading Rose because I didn't think I needed to continue with a different story. Or worse, I was afraid Rose wouldn't be as good. But oh man. Oh MAN. Please do yourself a favour and read these books--or better yet, listen to them both on audiobook, like I did. And get the tissues ready.

And that's all (for now)! I wanted to shy away from some of my favourites of the year because I didn't want to just rehash everything in my Faves of 2015 list. But that's coming tomorrow, so make sure to check back!

Have you read any of these? Do you want to? What books would you recommend finally getting to in 2016? Let's chat in the comments!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Top 10 Tuesday || 2016 Releases

Top 10 Tuesday is, as always, brought to you by The Broke and The Bookish. This week: Most Anticipated Releases for the Beginning of 2016!

1. Marked In Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop
I've loved The Others series for a long time now. So of course I'm going to be excited about another installment!

2. This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab
I really like Schwab's writing, both adult and YA, so a book about monsters? Sign me up.

3. Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard
Dennard is a new-to-me author, but I've heard the premise of this book is best friends who save the world, so, yes please.

4. Passenger (Passenger #1) by Alexandra Bracken
I really need to finish the Darkest Minds trilogy, but this is calling my name--time travel and pirates? I'm in, let's do this.

5. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Diversity in writing paired with my favourite sentence of all time: "reincarnated lives". Do I really have to wait until May???

6. Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto
A steampunk Western with a reckless gunslinging female lead? What's not to like?

7. A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
1920s Prohibition Era--except instead of banning alcohol, they've banned magic. Heck yes.

There are a few books that aren't on this list because they're not due out until the latter part of the year and don't even have covers yet--a new Laini Taylor novel, the second Six of Crows novel, the Walk on Earth a Stranger sequel.... So expect a mid-year update at some point.

In the meantime, are you excited for any of these? What are your most anticipated 2016 releases? Let's chat in the comments!

Monday, 28 December 2015

Monday Mix || Blue Lips, Blue Veins

Okay, if we're getting this blog back underway, we have to reinvigorate Monday Mix. I still freaking love making and listing to mixes. So let's go!

Last December I started replaying Dragon Age: Origins and then immediately picked up DA2 and rang in the new year with Inquisition. Someone talk to me about Dragon Age because I have so many feelings.

One of these days I'm going to make an Alistair mix, because I choose Alistair over everyone else. But Cullen is a close second. How could I not romance him?

So let's kick this off right with a Cullen/Inquisitor mix. Or, as I like to affectionately call this: Cullen is a big sap mix.

Blue Lips, Blue Veins

Listen on 8tracks

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Holiday BookTubeAThon TBR

The Holiday BookTubeAThon is happening from December 27-29 and I need to get in on some last minute reading, so I thought I'd participate. I watch and comment on enough BookTube videos anyway, so why not?

This year there are four challenges:
  1. Read a book with white on the cover
  2. Read a follow up to something you enjoyed
  3. Read a gift
  4. Read three books
Here's a list of some books I'm planning on choosing from to read over those three days. We'll see if I even remotely stick to this TBR or not! (All the covers are linked through to Goodreads if you're interested!)

I've picked a few graphic novels to give myself some quick options. I've had all these on my shelf for some time now, and it's time to get to them!

The first two here are short and should hopefully be easy to get through. Their Fractured Light is the book I'll probably end up reading though, because I am so pumped to finally have it in my hands. There was a lot of squealing and clutching it close to my chest when I unwrapped it yesterday morning.

Between these options I should be able to cover all the challenges... probably. I doubt I'll manage three books in three days, unless I decide to pick up all the graphic novels, but we'll see!

Are you participating? What books do you want to get to before the new year? Let's chat in the comments!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

15 Dropped Series in 2015

We've all been there. You're reading book one of a series and after closing those final pages you're just not interested in what happens next.

Maybe it's because book one stood so well on it's own you don't want to ruin it. Or maybe it's because things were so ridiculous that you can't imagine slogging through more books. Or maybe there are just other series you care about more.

Either way, you drop the series.

I'm really guilty of reading book one in series (usually trilogies, because YA amirite?) and then never feeling compelled to move on. It's something I've been working on in the last few years, because there are perfectly good series out there that I've dropped for no good reason.

But that's not what this is about today. This is about the series that I am intentionally dropping. I've read book one, or maybe more, in the last year or so and I just don't want to continue. I'll explain my reasonings with each book below...

1. The Young Elites Trilogy by Marie Lu
This was disappointing for me, because I liked the Legend trilogy well enough, but this book was just so soulless and boring. I don't care about what happens next, I skimmed most of the middle of the first book. So I'm out.

2. The Revolution 19 Trilogy by Gregg Rosenblum
Far too juvenile and bland for me. Not interested in more.

3. The Paper Gods Trilogy by Amanda Sun
Ink was just a rehashed version of every paranormal romance I've ever even heard of. The only draw was the Japanese setting and mythos, except we have to have a white girl at the centre of this for some bizarre reason. Also using Hepburn romanization is just too reminiscent of being 14 and writing terrible fanfic and the secondhand embarrassment was too much for me.

4. The Ever-Expanding Universe Trilogy by Martin Leicht & Isla Neal
This cover is just so clever and gorgeous, I'm almost sad I hated this as much as I did. The premise of teenage pregnancies in space was interesting enough, but there was too much icky-ness with dubious consent and girls hating girls, I just can't stomach more.

5. The Immortal City Trilogy by Scott Speer
I didn't really have high expectations for this and I wasn't wrong to feel that way. This book tried to do some interesting things with commentaries on celebrity and capitalism, but it just devolved into more dumb paranormal romance. Pass.

6. The Zodiac Trilogy by Romina Russell
Bizarrely over-complicated but paper thin worldbuilding dragged this book down. It was slow and boring and though some of the characters were interesting, I just don't care enough about anyone involved to continue.

7. The Extraction Trilogy by Stephanie Diaz
I was looking forward to this one, but it ended up being another run-of-the-mill dystopian. The plot was predictable, the writing was bland and again, I don't care about what happens to anyone.

8. The Taken Trilogy by Erin Bowmen
If you've never read a YA dystopian novel before, you'll probably love this. Otherwise, you'll be able to predict nearly the entire thing--and probably the rest of the trilogy along with it. (Try it, I did and then looked up some spoilers and wasn't really wrong.) Pass.

9. The Lies Beneath Trilogy by Anne Greenwood Brown
More actual murderous mermaids and less romance. Again, this devolved into typical paranormal romance and man some of the things that were played off as "romantic" were really gross. Hard pass.

10. The Pledge Series by Kimberly Derting
This was cute and all, but I don't really care about what happens next? I've read a few spoilers for the next book and beyond and I'm not interested in continuing.

11. The Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre
I read both Enclave and Outpost before deciding I was done with this. Outpost got too "because of the apocalypse we've reverted to the old way of doing things, including inferior status for women". No. Come on. This isn't necessary. I read spoilers for Horde and I'm not sorry I stopped reading.

12. The Johannes Cabal Series by Johnathan L. Howard
I was trying something new with this one. I don't really regret it, but it's just that this book wasn't exceptional enough for me to care about wanting to read three more in the series.

13. The Fire Sermon Trilogy by Francesa Haig
Despite it's marketing, this was a fairly typical dystopian tale. The worldbuilding was interesting and the conflict of Alpha and Omega twins skirted the line of being gross and ableist, but it managed to mostly steer clear of crossing it. Again, I just don't really care what happens next?

14. The Juliet Immortal Duology by Stacey Jay
Okay, this one is different. I loved this first book. A lot. It was light and fun and cute. The sequel Romeo Redeemed is more companion novel than anything else. And I'm probably not going to read it. Because I don't need to know what happens. I'm fine leaving this at one book.

15. The Wintercraft Trilogy by Jenna Burtenshaw
I'm waffling on this one. Book one was okay. Simplistic, but entertaining enough. I wouldn't be opposed to reading more. But it's not super high on my priority list right now. And I can't see that changing any time soon.

Phew! That was a lot more than I thought!

Read any of these? What did you think? What series have you been unimpressed with? Let's chat in the comments!